Breast or bottle?

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Pregnancy and Birth coping with breastfeeding

Wondering whether to breast or bottle feed your new baby? The Department of Health advises mums to breastfeed for at least 6 months but for some mothers this just doesn't work.

And a new study has even suggested that breast might not be best, as we're so often told. Research by the Medical Research Council has found that breastfeeding may actually make babies 'grumpier', with bottle-fed babies sleeping easier and being happier, smilier babies.

But pro-breastfeeding experts say that while this may be the case, mums shouldn't be too quick to reach for the bottle as this behaviour is a baby's way of bonding with their mum and instead, new parents should seek advice from their health visitor before choosing not to breastfeed.

It's a big decision with a lot of things to weigh up. Here, we talk through the pros and cons of both breastfeeding or bottle feeding to help you make the best choice for you and your baby. Have a read, and be sure to talk through your plans and get advice from your health visitor as well.

Want to chat to real mums about what worked for them? Our new Forums are the place to head.

How long should you breastfeed your baby?

The Department of Health advises mums to breastfeed their baby for at least 6 months, but scientists at the UCL Institute of Child Health in London released research in January 2011, saying that introducing other foods earlier than this may be more beneficial.

They said there is a higher risk of anaemia, coeliac disease and food allergies in babies who are exclusively breastfed - and also that it could mean they don't get used to bitter tastes which could encourage unhealthy eating later on in life.

This research may add more confusion to mums who aren't sure what's best for their babies. It's a subject that causes a lot of stress for some mums as they feel embarrassed or judged after deciding that breastfeeding just isn't for them. See our weaning guide and baby food meal planners if you're thinking of introducing solids to your baby earlier than the recommended 6 months.

Celebs share their views on breastfeeding

Several celebs have even had their say on breastfeeding. Model Gisele said that she thinks there should be a law for all mums to breastfeed until their babies are 6 months old.

In an interview in Harper's Bazaar magazine, she said: 'Some people here [in the US] think they don't have to breastfeed, and I think "Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?"

'I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for 6 months.'

Denise Van Outen also joined the breast or bottle debate recently when she admitted that she stopped breastfeeding her baby, Betsy, after 3 weeks as she found it too public.

'I probably should have persevered a bit longer than 3 weeks,' says Denise, 36.

'But I can't be sitting in Starbucks and breastfeeding, because they [photographers] are taking pictures.'

Have your say

Tell us what you think about breastfeeding - did it work for you? Is all the advice confusing? Leave a comment in the box below, chat in our Forums or let us know on Facebook.

On Facebook we asked you what you thought of Gisele's statement - and most of you told us that you think breastfeeding should be a woman's choice.

Samantha Lockwood said: 'I think it should be every mothers choice. It is not always possible to breast feed your baby and some women are made to feel inadequate or bad mothers if they don't or can't. Being a new mum has its own challenges without adding more!'

And when we asked you about Denise's decision to stop breastfeeding, most of you told us that you didn't think breastfeeding when out and about was a problem.

Caroline O'Sullivan said: 'Breastfeeding needn't be 'public' when out and about with a little one as long as you take along a blanket or scarf to cover them with.

'I used to pop my babes under my top and use that to cover things up. As they get older they feed less and eat more solids so you don't need to feed them in public. I'm still breastfeeding my son who's 2yrs 8mths.

'He only has my milk at night and sometimes when he wakes up just so we can cuddle up, he just has solids and other liquids during the day.'

Continued below...

We answer your questions on breast and bottle feeding so you can make up your own mind about the best option for you and your baby.


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